Many college tech students dream about becoming a successful entrepreneur. I had this same dream as a college tech student back in the day.
The problem is, entrepreneurship isn't for everybody. And, this leads the majority of college tech students to accept jobs to work for someone else.
But, this is okay.
Entrepreneurship takes risk, it takes perseverance, and it takes a long-term commitment. It's often a roller coaster ride of many ups and downs.
On the flip side, entrepreneurship can pay off handsomely, and it's one of the few ways to go if you want true financial and time freedom.
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Entrepreneurship By The Numbers
Let's look at entrepreneurship in terms of the numbers...
- It's estimated that 10% of the working-aged people in the United States employ the other 90% of working-aged people.
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. had an estimated 325 million people as of 2018.
- About 60% of people in the U.S. are working-aged which equates to 195 million working-aged people.
- Out of those 195 million, the statistics say that only 19.5 million will be entrepreneurs.
This leads into the following two important questions that you must ask yourself...
- Is becoming an entrepreneur the only way to control your own future?
- If you're not interested in becoming an entrepreneur, what other options do you have?
Before we answer this question, let's first look at the definition of entrepreneur, from dictionary.com:
A person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.
Although it's the truth, this definition mainly paints a picture of doom and gloom. I mean, what's on the other side of that initiative and risk? I'd argue that on the other side of this initiative and risk is true freedom.
Freedom of both time and money.
Sure, the odds are against entrepreneurs, yet it takes high risk to earn high rewards.
What Other Options Do You Have?
Okay, we've covered a few pros and cons of being an entrepreneur, but we haven't discussed what you can do if you're not interested in starting your own business.
And, considering 90% of people won't be starting their own businesses, an alternate option should be of interest to most.
Here's the good news...
Even if you don't want to (or aren't a good fit to) become an entrepreneur, becoming an intrapreneur may be an option for you.
What is an intrapreneur? Here's the definition of intrapreneur, from dictionary.com:
An employee of a large corporation who is given freedom and financial support to create new products, services, systems, etc., and does not have to follow the corporation's usual routines or protocols.
Working your way into an intrapreneur role within a large company can give you many of the benefits of becoming an entrepreneur without the same level of risk.
In the tech world, I would equate an intrapreneur to a position as an architect within a research and development division. Or, with a company that promotes innovation and exploration.
The Bottom Line
If becoming an entrepreneur isn't in your cards, I recommend that you strongly consider you target an intrapreneur position.
By doing this, you will find yourself in a rewarding career.
You'll have flexibility in what you work on, full support from your organization, and a nice salary.
Remember, you don't have to start your own business and become an entrepreneur. Instead, you'll find a great company, and then work your way up to an intrapreneur role.
You'll have to start in a non-intrapreneur position to build up your experience. But, that's the path you need to take (early on in your tech career) before a company is going to entrust you to make significant business decisions.
Regardless of which direction you go, you must be willing to take ownership over your tech career. And, you should want to put in the necessary effort to grow your technical and problem solving skills because that's how you'll position yourself for career growth.
One final thing that should put your mind at ease...
You can always change your mind and pivot at a later date. So, even if you choose to work your way toward becoming an intrapreneur within a large organization, you could come to the conclusion (2 or 5 or 10 or even 15 years in) that becoming an entrepreneur is what you'd really like to do.
So, don't be stuck by analysis paralysis.
Make a decision on where you want to take your career, and begin heading that direction.
Ryan has been heavily involved in the world of Information Technology and entrepreneurship since the early 2000s. From small business consulting to Fortune 500 IT leadership, Ryan has a wide array of tech industry knowledge. Ryan has his BBA and MBA from the University of Iowa. Connect with Ryan on Twitter or Instagram.